Eric Cummings, aged 31, grew up in Temagami and currently lives on a hobby farm on the outskirts of New Liskeard with his wife and four children. He is a graduate of Fleming College, a Fish & Wildlife Technologist, and also trained in outdoor adventure skills with a view towards tourism. This is his first foray into politics. Cummings was attracted to the Canadian version of Libertarianism, which he maintains is somewhat different than the American version. “That’s one of the things I really like about the party – there is no left or right. With Libertarians you can have left or right, as long as you maintain core principles of fairness, respect, individual freedom and responsibility. As long as your views align with those four principles you can be a Libertarian.”
The general view of Libertarianism is that they eschew social constructs in favour of self-determinism – disliking social programming that costs the individual their freedom and drains their finances. When asked about the idea of ‘common good’, and its attendant costs, Cummings comments, “I classify that under [the principle of] personal responsibility and respect. If you’re working towards something which is good for everyone you are respecting them… You don’t want to force or coerce anyone into paying for something.” The other side of the coin, of course, is that if you don’t pay for it you don’t get to use it. “Exactly. It’s kind of like a crowd funding ideology – I do understand that in this day and age the traditional form of Libertarianism where we defund everything and cut taxes is not a reality and it’s not something anyone I speak to at the party level is interested in doing. … We’re more interested in trimming the bureaucracy of the infrastructure in health care and education. We’re spending more on bureaucracy than the front-line service end. For hospitals, for health care, it’s about getting front line workers in the field as opposed to setting up a LHIN like we used to have… trimming the bureaucracy to give people more value for their tax dollar.”
When it comes to northern roads, Eric Cummings feels contracts must be opened up, decentralized, and regional autonomy allowed. “Decentralize the contracts for the road cleaning would be something I would advocate for and giving it more to local companies or smaller companies to take over smaller sections of highway rather than giving the entire area over to one contract to one big company… If we give companies more access to government contracts it would breed more competition and provide Ontarians with better services … Open the contracts to non-union.”
When asked how he felt about being termed a “fringe” party, he says, “I disagree with that, I’m very central personally, don’t see myself as fringe. Socially I’m liberal, and fiscally I’m conservative. A lot of issues I’m dead centre on the political spectrum. I’m very involved in conservation. I would identify more as a green Libertarian.” Cummings has a history as a volunteer, as a fire fighter, in fish management, with bird banding, and Ducks Unlimited. “A big thing I think people need to understand about our party is that we have no whip, we have no direction of voting, our party leader is adamant that he wants us to campaign for everything that is in the best interests of our own constituents… We need to do what is best for our ridings as long as it follows the 4 principles, which are fairness, respect, individual freedom and personal responsibility …It’s about what is best for your neighbours and yourself…”
Cummings acknowledges that his is not a major party, but he believes people in the north love their freedom, or they wouldn’t be living here. “I don’t expect to win, but if I can get the other parties to adopt some of the things on my agenda, that is a victory.” Eric Cummings will be at the West Nipissing All Candidates evening, May 26.